Stores Near Trump Tower Complain NYPD Command Center Scaring Off Customers, Driving Down Business

City officials are listening to complaints from small businesses around Trump Tower, who say the heightened security there is hurting their bottom line, especially during the holiday season. 

The city says so far they're not sure what can be done but that they're at least listening and responding to the businesses.

But that hasn't been the case over the past six weeks, according to the midtown stores. The businesses say they've struggled to get clear information and responses from city government. 

On Thursday, the city's Small Business Commissioner, Gregg Bishop, went to 56th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues to let the shops know he's on the case. That block is closed to most traffic and taxis. It is open to pedestrians, it doesn't look open because of all the security checkpoints and an NYPD command center on the corner. 

People think they can't get past the police, so they don't even try, business owners say. That means no shoppers in the stores, hassles with deliveries and a a big drop in foot traffic.

Derek Walsh, the frustrated owner of the Judge Roy Bean Bar on the south side of the street, has started a petition, and 45 businesses on the block have signed it and sent it to Councilman Dan Garodnick. They want the NYPD to move its command post to the other side of Fifth Avenue, closer to Trump Tower, so their street doesn't look like a dead zone. 

"To walk by a bomb squad and a command post and three barricades and about 50 heavy armed police officers -- they avoid the area, and sometimes, you know what, I don't blame them," he said. 

Garodnick said he's heard the complaints.

"There are lot of New Yorkers who work on these blocks, who rely on their incomes to take care of their family, and they are struggling and we're hearing of layoffs as a result of what is going on in this area," the councilman said. 

During his visit Thursday, Bishop said he's spoken to many small business owners who have felt they've had no voice as security blanketed the area. 

"That's why we're here. Certainly now, they have a voice," he said. 

An NYPD spokesman says the department is aware of the request to move the command post and that they are "working with all involved to see if there is an amicable solution that can be reached."

As much as the NYPD may want to help the businesses, it is a difficult predicament. From a security perspective, some suggest it's not good practice to put a command center right underneath a tower or too close to the potential target they're trying to protect. 

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